It’s all about the Chesapeake. This largest estuary in the country requires a steady supply of fresh water for the health and vitality of the many plants and animals--including people--that thrive or die there. The mighty Susquehanna supplies fifty percent of this water, and so conditions upstream affect the bay directly and dramatically. Three pollutants threaten this environment: silt/sediment from farmers’ fields and construction activity, nutrients from agriculture and sewage, and industrial toxins. Silt smothers oysters; nutrient-fed algae blooms suck oxygen from the water; chemicals poison plants and animals.
By the 1980s the bay had reached a tipping point and an effort to restore it got underway. The Chesapeake Bay Agreement (1987) was a path breaking achievement that established numeric goals to reduce pollution within set deadlines. Subsequent agreements have continued this practice. The most recent of these, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, signed on June 16, 2014, commits all headwater states to work to realize 10 goals and 31 outcomes by 2025.
Annville is doing its part. In 2011 the Board of Commissioners approved a 13.5 million dollar upgrade to the sewage plant in order to meet new requirements for nitrogen and phosphorus levels in water released into the Quittapahilla following treatment. The costs of this renovation will be bourn by rate payers for the duration of the 20 year loan in the form of higher water/sewer bills.
Now we must address stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is a source of pollution, chiefly from streets and parking lots, some sediment, nutrients, and trash (see the evidence yourself at our own Quittapahilla Creek Garbage Museum!). The program, called MS4, has given municipalities three main goals: (1) reduce runoff overall by promoting infiltration; (2) reduce contamination by encouraging Best Management Practices in the use of property management, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and detergents; (3) reduce soil erosion by mulching or planting bare spots.
In 2015 the PA Department of Environmental Protection gave the Township its MS4 Permit to discharge stormwater into surface waters of the Commonwealth. This Permit requires us initially:
- To locate all storm drain outflows on a map;
- To label every storm drain indicating its participating watershed;
- To educate residents regarding stormwater related matters through our newsletter, website, Town Hall bulletin boards and card racks, and by distributing the pdf After the Storm (414 KB) flyer.
The Township must file an annual report on progress toward these objectives, and compliance with 6 MCMs (Minimum Control Measures). Future Permits will include additional requirements. Failure to comply will result in fines the Township will have to pay, or pass on to those responsible for the violations.
The links below provide a wealth of information on the Chesapeake and current efforts to restore and protect it. Included are many tips on what you can do to help.
Chesapeake STAT: New and authoritative suite of websites tracking progress on the clean-up project.
The Chesapeake Bay Program: Excellent site covering all aspects of the Bay.
The Chesapeake Stormwater Network: The College of Knowledge for Stormwater.
The EPA's Chesapeake site: all about the Bay TMDL.
DEP Frequently Asked Questions regarding MS4 Permits.
Learn how you can help to protect our streams and drinking water while:
The construction industry has a key role to play in storm water management. As storm water flows over a construction site, it can pick up pollutants such as sediment, debris, and chemicals. Uncontrolled erosion can have a significant financial impact on a construction project. It costs time and money to repair gullies, replace vegetation, clean sediment clogged storm drains, and mitigate damage to other people's property. At a construction site, it is important to protect the natural features by:
- Minimizing the amount of exposed soil, because the less soil that is exposed the easier and cheaper it will be to control erosion.
- Identify and protect areas where existing vegetation such as trees will not be disturbed by construction activity.
- Protect streams, wild woodlands, wetlands, and other sensitive areas from any disturbance or construction activity by fencing or otherwise clearly marking those areas.
Wherever possible sequence construction activities so that the soil is not exposed for long periods of time. Schedule site stabilization activities such as landscaping to be completed as quickly as possible after the land has been graded to the final contour.
- Inspect and maintain silt fences after each rainstorm.
- Make sure the bottom of the silt fence is buried in the ground.
- Securely attach the material to the stakes.
- Make sure the construction entrance doesn't become buried in soil.
- Regular street sweeping at construction entrance will prevent dirt from entering storm drains.
Installing and maintaining pollution prevention techniques on site can reduce the potential for storm water pollution and help protect our nation's water supply.